Feb 21, 2010 8:36 PM by Matt Stafford

Plan for program doesn't sit well with local retirees

A bill, that would cut the cost of living increases to retirees, has passed the house and senate. Now it awaits the governor's signature to become law. A local group of retirees says if he signs it, they'll sue the state.

Hundreds of thousands of government employees pay into, or draw from, the Public Employees' Retirement Association, also known as P.E.R.A.

"I had absolutely no idea that anything could change," says Debbie McCarty, who is facing changes to her retirement plan, like many others.

Facing a budget crunch, the group is looking to recover through a plan that increases contributions from employees and employers, as well as cutting out a 3.5 percent cost of living increase this year.

"I thought I could manage with 3.5 percent," explains Tina Getz, a retiree in the P.E.R.A. program.

Getz, like the others, studied the numbers. Even with out the cut, things would be tight.

"I was afraid that I would be on a fixed income, and not be able to afford to live in 10 or 15 years," says Getz.

Getz and others on the plan are concerned.

"Remember, retirees worked 30 years and they put in their money every month," says John Huff, a retiree in the program and working with others to stop the plan from P.E.R.A. "Unfortunately, too many of us as retirees feel that's placed a little too much burden on the retiree. P.E.R.A. does need a fix, but it shouldn't be taken on the backs of the retirees."

The retirees say they've lost faith in the government and P.E.R.A.

"You used to be able to seal a bargain with a handshake, and then a promise," explains Huff. "That doesn't count anymore obviously so we all depend upon contracts."

So, as they plan out their actions against the move from P.E.R.A., they're also planning out their own next steps.

"I'll probably work part time and be careful with my budget," says Getz.

For many though, that's not the ideal situation.

"We'd rather be retired and not get involved politically," explains Huff, "but if it comes down to this will have to get back into the ballgame."

In the meantime, the retirees are waiting for the bill to be signed into law before taking legal action.

If you would like more information on the group possibly suing the state, click here.



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